Multinational pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has seen profits rise above expectations, as the company is connected to a possible merger with Pfizer's over-the-counter drug division.
Earnings grew by 16 per cent during 2005 on the back of high sales from its main pharmaceutical offerings. Sales of its respiratory drug Advair went up by 22 per cent, while purchases of diabetes drug Avandia also grew by 18 per cent.
Overall, GSK saw its profits increase to ?6.7 billion last year, while sales came to ?21.8 billion in total. Earnings per share increased by 21 per cent to 82.6p.
Speaking about the results, chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier said: "GSK's fourth quarter performance was a great finish to an excellent year for the company. Looking into 2006, the strong growth seen from [our] key products? is set to continue."
Speculation has mounted, however, over GSK's interest in Pfizer's over the counter medicine ? soon to go up for sale. The Guardian reported that Mr Garnier did not rule out a merger when speaking to journalists.
"We will be one of the many companies looking at the material [on Pfizer] but there is no guarantee that we will bid for it. We are going to take a look and decide later," he said.